Holiday hints given for safety, entertaining

Published 12:11 am Wednesday, December 20, 2006

By Staff
Santa has been good to us this year, and is giving us the following days off from work. Our office will be closed from December 22nd thru January 2nd, and will reopen on the January 3rd, 2007.
Check here for ideas for holiday presents (large and small) for busy cooks and perhaps yourself!  Many of these make great stocking stuffers. Consider bundling several smaller items together for one present.
Tool 1: The Auburn Cook Book – The cookbook is 480 pages of delicious recipes, nutrition and food safety information, meal planning tips, cooking techniques and more. Written by Extension food and nutrition specialists, the 1996 revision of the Auburn Cookbook contains most of the former book's traditional recipes, modified to contain less fat, cholesterol and sugar. New recipes were also added. The cookbook is not a diet cookbook, but its adaptations, substitutions and cooking methods are designed to help cooks adjust and improve their cooking for a healthier diet. At the end of each recipe is a nutritional analysis. The cookbook is written for the novice cook as well as the more experienced. Price $10.00
Tool 2: Colanders – If you tend to wash and/or drain a lot of foods for meals, an extra colander or two may save time and help prevent cross-contamination. You might buy them in a variety of sizes.
Tool 3:  Cutting Boards – Avoid cross-contamination when cutting different types of foods for the same meal by owning several cutting boards. This is especially important if you're cutting raw meats, poultry or seafood and then need to cut ready-to-eat foods. With more than one cutting board, you can avoid spending extra time washing your board before cutting the next item. Plastic or other non-porous cutting boards are easier to safely clean as they can be run through the dishwasher.
Tool 4: An Assortment of Whisk – Some whisks are longer and narrower - others are like big balloons. Use the &#8220ballooningest” ones when you want to beat a lot of air into a mix, such as whipped cream or meringue. Choose whisks with thin and flexible wires for whipping air into batters, and thicker, more rigid wires for thicker mixtures such as brownies. Choose whisks that have the area sealed where the wires go into the handle. This helps assure your whisk stays clean. These whisks may be more expensive, but will probably last longer and cost less over time. Look for &#8220dishwasher safe” whisks to save time and to help assure your whisks are thoroughly and safely washed.
Tool 5: A Kitchen Timer – Help keep your kitchen tasks under control with this battery-operated device. Time the seconds, minutes or hours needed for a cooking process. Many come with a flip-out stand and a magnetic backing, so you always can keep them handy. Some can be clipped to your belt if you need to leave the kitchen. Others come with a string to hang around your neck.
Tool 6: Measuring Cups – For items such as sugar, oatmeal, rice, etc., a measuring cup with a long handle lets you quickly scoop the amount you need. Regardless of your preferred type of measuring cup, you may wish to own at least two sets to save clean-up time between different uses.
Tool 7: Salad Spinner – If you're washing lettuce, fresh herbs, etc., this tool is a must. Simply toss in your washed greens and &#8220spin” them dry. These products work in various ways. Some have knobs you turn. Others operate through a push-down mechanism. Check around to find one with the features you like.
Tool 8: Heat Resistant Spoon-Shaped Spatulas – Mix, scrape and then, stir again at the stove with this one utensil. Once you try these, you may want them in several sizes.
Tool 9: Food Thermometers – Food thermometers help you save guessing time trying to decide when food is safely done! It is convenient to have both an &#8220instant-read thermometer” that can be inserted at the end of cooking for foods like steaks and casseroles, plus an &#8220ovenproof thermometer” that can be left in during cooking for foods like as roasts and turkeys.
Tool 10: Small, Narrow, Long-Handled Rubber Spatula – Use this kitchen utensil to scrape out the last bit of food from the nooks and crannies of jars.
Tool 11: Rice Cooker – If cooking rice seems like too much fuss and an uncertain outcome, consider trying a rice cooker. A rice cooker features a inner pan that rests above a heating element. Specific ratios of water and rice are added to the cooker. Rice cookers determine when the rice is done by sensing the temperature of the inner pan.
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